No doubt you have heard loving, intelligent, but totally exhausted moms complain, "When will my baby sleep through the night?" Today's moms are constantly challenged to make the right decisions for their family. And with all the contradicting sleep advice available, a mom can become pretty confused. Suffering from the consequences of sleep deprivation, there comes a point when you've had it! All you want to do is lie down and not wake up until you are good and ready; but duty calls.
Have you ever looked at your baby, who won't go to sleep, and thought, "What do I do now? I wish I knew what you need from me; then I wouldn't feel so incompetent." Babies do communicate their needs through their cries - different cries for different needs. Your baby is communicating what he needs but it is not with words.
Your baby wants you to know that all he needs, emotionally, in order to sleep on his own is to feel safe. When he senses that you are anxious he doesn't understand what is wrong and fears for his safety. He wants you to emotionally communicate to him that all is well so he can go to sleep. One way this can be done is by gazing into his eyes with a confident reassuring look that says he is safe. Your baby wants to trust that going to sleep on his own is not the same as "being alone," and that you will always be there when he needs you.
If your baby could talk he would explain that if he can anticipate what is happening next he feels safer. Having daily routines helps him adjust to the changes throughout the day. Eating, bathing, playing and sleep routines are necessary to create the familiar predictability that brings them the security they crave. Your baby wants you to know that he is brilliant and can keep track of all of these routines provided you do them with consistency.
Something else your baby would like you to know is that he is easily overwhelmed by sights, sounds, smells and motion. The anxiety caused by this sensory overload signals his body to excrete hormones that stimulate his system, making it nearly impossible for him to relax and go to sleep. It is helpful to become aware of his sensory surroundings - less is more.
Your baby will sleep through the night and so can you, when he gets his needs met. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your baby is a happy well rested mommy.
Happy Mother's Day
Dawn Fry, Childcare Educator, Helping Families Get the Sleep They Need.